Cemetery Dance ? A Pendergast Mytery
Douglas Preston / Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing 2009
The zombie did it. It takes quite a lot of juju for mystery novelists to start off like that. Chances of a reader thinking “If I wanted to read Stephen King, I would have bought Stephen King” are high. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have what it takes to get the reader over that initial hump and into a horror thriller. Cemetery Dance, the latest (2009) Pendergast novel is decent enough.
Smithback, a journalist close to Pendergast who appeared in previous Lincoln Child / Douglas Preston novels, is killed by someone living in his building, someone whose body was found floating in the Hudson two weeks before. Smithback’s murder might be related to a couple of articles he was working on: one about a rich computer dude and another about strange goings on at a church and compound at the northern tip of Manhattan squatted by some strange cult.
You really have to be willing to go along for the ride with this thriller. Zombis, juju, black and white magic, are usually associated to horror novels more than thrillers and mysteries. Preston / Child manage to keep the reader interested even when some events strain on the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. You are still willing to go along but more because you are curious and less because you are captivated by the story.
Especially annoying is a character ends up in the hospital four times and is attacked four times in pretty much the same way. Preston / Child finally have some police protection on the room but it is knocked out by the ol’ drugged coffee routine.
As part of the Pendergast series, Cemetery Dance is a lesser effort. Pendergast is not particularly fleshed out so if you are not familiar with the character it is more difficult to buy the story as a whole and Pendergast sort of comes across as Bruce Wayne sans Batman. The wrap-up is a bit much
If you are a long-time fan of the Pendergast mystery novels this one is okay. If you are not, read the others.